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Some friends and I are going to Belgium to see the Tour of Flanders and Gent-Wevelgem. None of us been before, so I'm looking for some insights on trip planning. We plan to stay in Kortrijk and rent a car from the airport in Brussels - but that's about all the planning we've done so far (aside from buy plane tickets). Any recommendations on where to go? Where to eat? What to do on non-race days? And, where to see Flanders?

Thanks in advance.
 

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On non-race days plan to visit Dixmuide (a World War I battlefield with trenches) that's very cool to see as well as Brugge.

Brugge, which is about a 30-minute drive from the Belgian coastline, was considered the Venice of northern Europe from the 13th century to the 15th century as it had a canal that led directly to the North Sea. Eventually the canal became impassable with silt that accumulated over the years and Brugge ceased to become a key city for trade, so it's basically frozen in time. A beautiful city with great restaurants.

Because Flanders is small and flat as a pancake you will notice that you will be able to drive around from point to point relatively quickly without losing much time. In that regard, if you're into WWII history, you can drive to Bastogne (101st Airborne division siege during WWII with a good museum) on non-race days -- it's probably a two-hour drive from the Flanders area (or you can do it in an hour and a half if you drive like Vino), but well worth the visit. I've been there twice. If you go, make sure you rent the "Band of Brothers" DVD titled "Bastogne" so you have some context.

Have fun. Flanders/Belgium is a wonderful place with wonderful people. And great frites! :)
 

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Saturday before RVV

Have you considered trying to do the RVV for cyclotourists? It's the day before RVV, and you can do the entire thing, from Bruges to Ninove or shorter rides that still take in some of the climbs...I don't know if that's what your into for your vacation, but it's only 15 euros, which from what I understand is a lot less than some of the other cyclotourist rides in Europe.
 

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Food is easy in Flanders, they value good food and drink. Any restaurant that looks like a dark oak furnished place and is fairly busy is bound to serve old fashioned damn good Flemish food at good value. Don't forget to go to at least one brewery for a tour and more importantly tasting. Ghent and Antwerp are worth a visit as well.
When in Belgium avoid driving late at night there's a huge DUI problem among the younger people and it kills several people every weekend in flanders alone.
 

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for Ghent Wevelgem

there's a bar in Ghent that is the Peter Van Petegem Fan Club home. Race goes right by and you can watch from there and go to opther locales.For the Ronde do the ride the day before and then some of the climbs are multiple routes up the same hill so you can watch them climb, when they descend and loop you run around laterally to the next climb. You can take 3 Bergs in with very little movement.
Frites and Delirium tremens!!!!
 

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You lucky dog!

Having been to Flanders twice now, I can say that you will have a blast! Check out the link at the bottom of my post for a record of my previous trip. Don't worry too much about making plans, it's easy to get around and distances are short.

Best place to be for the Ronde is in Geraardsbergen, where the Kapel Muur climb is. A nice little town, nice church. Yes, the Ronde for tourists is the day before, so if you want to ride with a million people, it's a good thing to do.

Kotrijk is fun, cool shop just up the road in Bavikhove called Sportivo.

Brugges is wee tiny, but very pretty. Best meal I ever had was up the road from Brugges in a town called Damme. Look for the Marieke restaurant.

Go early to Gent for the start, it's a lower-key event and you can elbow around the parking lot with all the pro teams. Two great bike shops in Gent - Plum (pronounced "ploom"). They have a cool museum way in the back. The other shop is in Drongen, just out of Gent proper, called PDG Bikes.

After the start head for Wevelgem, where it's a town fair at the finish line with food and drink.

If you're into war history, head to Ypres for the In Flanders Field Museum (www.inflandersfield.be) or visit a reconstructed trench in Boesinghe (www.diggers.be)
 

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What about the Museum?

While the war memorials are important, and I find Leffe and frites imposable to resist!
If you are going to The Tour of Flanders don't miss the Centre of Flanders 0r Centrum Ronde van Vlaanderen in the small city of Oudenaarde.
It's a GREAT place. Complete history of the race, lots of interactive displays (you can ride a Merckx bike over cobbles), memorabilia like you wouldn't believe!
Make sure you give yourself plenty of time there, it's not large, but very worthy for any race fan. My family had the chance to go to the Amstel, Fleche Wallonne and L-B-L last year, and with all of the excitement of those three great Classics, the Centrum Ronde van Vlaanderen still stands out.
Enjoy!
http://www.crvv.org/EN/index.php
 
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